The Oldest Coffee House in Paris
I published a blog post some time ago (May 2013) where my subject was the oldest coffee house in Paris—the Café le Procope. It was established in the 17th century and still exists in the same location. Coffee quickly caught on with Parisians and coffee houses like Café le Procope multiplied throughout the city.
The BBC News Magazine recently posted (19 April 2014) an article entitled, France’s Silent Tea Revolution. The point of the story was to expose the growing trend of tea drinkers in Paris. It comments on how the French want quality in their tea bags whereas the English want the cheapest. Companies have sprung up to concoct special teas for restaurants as well as providing consulting services.
The specialist teas are spreading and no longer will French tea drinkers settle for just any old English tea bag (e.g., Earl Grey). The article mentions a retailer by the name of Dammann. While based in Dreux (west of Paris), Dammann has a store in Paris located at 15, place des Vosges (www.dammann.fr). Monsieur Damame, who was granted exclusive privileges by Louis XIV to sell tea in France, founded the company in 1692 (compare this to Café le Procope having been founded in 1686).
The article goes on to identify certain individuals who I mention in my book, Where Did They Put the Guillotine? , Madame de Sevigne, a prolific letter writer during the 17th century, lived in the mansion that now houses the Musée Carnavalet. Napoleon was a tea drinker. Cardinal Mazarin, advisor to the young Louis XIV, drank tea as a medicine for his gout.
Like a Fine Wine
The French are treating tea as they do their beloved Bordeaux wines. There is a special way to serve the tea. Teas are being paired with cheeses and other foods. Teas are being judged based on color, clarity, vintages, fermentation, new growth, etc. For all you wine experts, sound familiar?
Do I hear an international tea contest brewing that is based on blind taste testing sometime in our near future? Perhaps Inglenook will develop a tea that takes Europe and France by storm? Most of you oenophiles will know what I’m talking about.
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Copyright © 2014 Stew Ross